Les Miserables (2012) PG-13

Due to the fact that 95% of the dialogue is sung and there are misplaced British accents in a French story, it is a bit difficult to follow the story.  Many of the subtleties of the Victor Hugo novel are lost.  The actors give strong performances and the movie is very entertaining, but don’t expect anyone who isn’t thoroughly versed in the history of 19th century revolutions to get much beyond the imaginary newspaper headline, “Fed-up Poor People Stage Failed Revolt”.  A lot more back-story should have been provided.  Allusions are made to despots and barricades without explaining why these were important.  It would have been really helpful to have some context of what had happened in the French Revolution and the aftermath of monarchical repression and crackdown on revolutionaries that followed it.  It is not at all clear why the revolutionaries are revolting other than the fact that they make vague statements about freedom and liberty.  There are architectural anachronisms in the scenes at the dry dock and river bridge as well as some modern items like contact lenses and electronic earpieces that are mistakenly shown.  Some of the tawdry details of the prostitutes and thieves could have been left out.  Overall, the film is not really beneficial to students with out a great deal of pre-teaching by the instructor.  You would be much better off showing the non-musical 1998 version of the story instead.

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